Contracting with the Region of Waterloo — What does it look like? What does it mean?

Article by Lesley Cressman

The choice to work with the Region as a contractor is a hard decision for independent providers to make. While it gives some families a level of security, it can also give current families a lot to worry about.

Lesley owner of Faery Childcare was quoted, “I cannot lose my forest program; my families came to my care for a reason; they want to have their children in nature to explore risky play and to have an input on the program.”

“I’m worried about maintaining autonomy over my business and the type of curriculum I offer. My little people are wild and free and I want to ensure they’re free to explore and take risks in their play,” said Natasha Kocher, owner of Red River ELC.

For Independent providers, a lot of research, questions, conversations, and time have gone into making this choice.

How to Apply

First to be clear, home child care providers will not be hired by the Region of Waterloo as staff, they are independent contractors.

The Region is a licensed agency that contracts with you to provide child care in your home. We welcome applicants who are registered early childhood educators, but it isn’t a requirement. However, we do require that you have experience working with children. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

This is what the application process looks like:

Register for a two-part information session by calling 519-575-4400 and asking for home child care. After the information session, you will need to submit a completed application form with references. Your application will be assessed based on your qualifications, the location of your home, and the number of children needing care in your area. You will also need to submit a small business plan. One of our consultants will conduct a scored interview with you in your home. You will be assessed for your experience and ability to work with children and later contacted about next steps. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

What Does the Region of Waterloo Home Child Care offer to a Contracted Provider?

Working with a licensed agency can offer guidance for novice providers and be a great resource for support. They can also assist in connecting child care providers with parents who require care. Some home spaces are also approved to offer an additional space when contracting with a licensed agency which can be a huge help to families searching for care; often we have had to turn away families in our community and it is a very difficult thing to do.

In addition —

Licensed home child care agencies monitor caregivers’ homes to ensure they comply with provincial regulations in the Child Care and Early Years Act (2014). These agencies: Meet with you monthly in your home while you are providing care; Refer families to your home child care, Help you connect with other providers, Provide training and workshops; and, Work with you, families, and community agencies to include children with special needs. (Region of Waterloo Home Child Care)

A second set of eyes, once a month to make sure a provider is on tract would be a nice thing, especially if you’re new to providing home child care.

Private providers already welcome that extra input, many of us run with an open door policy program, which means, families can come any time and check in on us. Additionally, with consent, some providers run a private Facebook group, where the families can see videos, pictures, and events. Families feel valued and involved when they are able to peak in on their children whenever they have time. Work is hard, it’s busy, but parents are always parents first. They love and miss their little ones throughout the day. This is one little way, we hope to help them adjust to care, and someone else spending time with their children.

The connection with other providers would be beneficial as well because collaboration with professionals creates huge opportunity for personal and professional growth. That being said, there are a lot of provider groups out there where providers can transition the isolation that being a provider can cause. Lesley and Natasha have found a few other crunchy or nature based providers we reach out to at this time. Private providers hope that the level of professional expectation, behaviors, and commitment to partnerships with parents will be higher under the Region of Waterloo’s umbrella.

Having access to supports to include children with special needs in our programs would be a huge asset for home child care providers. Working with the Region to connect with those community agencies would be very valuable for the families in our care and is a definitely plus to contracting with a licensed agency.

Professional development, training, and continuous learning are something that we are looking forward to. The opportunity to work within the Early Years Engage program is exciting for both Lesley and Natasha who strive to provide exceptional, high quality programs. Being a part of this as a provider contracted with the Region of Waterloo would be exceptional!

Continuous learning and growth is important for children and for early years partners. The Region’s continuous quality improvement program is centered on this belief. Early Years Engage helps child care and early learning programs take an ongoing approach to improving. (Region of Waterloo)

There is a lot of information on this continuous learning opportunity on the website. Taking part in professional development is an important part of being a purposeful educator.

Our early years partners (licensed child care centres, licensed home child care agencies, special needs resourcing agencies and Early On child and family centres) who contract with the Region will:

  • Continually review their practices to better meet the needs of children and families and to align with Our Vision for Quality in Waterloo Region
  • Develop short and long terms goals for growth
  • Create action plans to meet the goals
  • Evaluate progress against ‘Our Vision’
  • Involve all staff in the continuous improvement process
  • Have flexibility in choosing focus areas for their goals
  • Build relationships with each other and the Region, and celebrate successes

(Region of Waterloo)

Lesley was lucky enough to speak with one of the supervisors and have an amazing conversation about what the Region wants to develop with private providers. The fostering of relationships with private care providers is something important. It is our hope, that even though there will be a little bit of paperwork, we hopeful the region, our families and us can come to a positive outcome, where all our needs are met.

In Lesley’s private home daycare, her parents really want their weekly trips to the forest, their singing and signing, music and movement and our field trips to still happen. Messy and risky play are very important for the development of young children; her families are well educated and want this kind of learning to foster their children’s growth across the spectrum of development.

Working as a Caregiver, Who Would the Provider Actually Work For?

“Home child care agencies are licensed by the Ministry of Education to contract with people who wish to provide child care in their home (known as caregivers). Caregivers are self-employed business owners who receive support from the agencies’ Early Childhood Educators. (Region of Waterloo

This is where some confusion happens, is the provider licensed or the agency. The answer is the agency (the Region of Waterloo) has the license. Independent Providers would have a contract with the region for providing care. A lot of Independent Providers are ECEs, teachers or have their BA in science or art. They are well educated, they just want to care for their children or run a home business that has continued after their children have grown.

Wage Enhancement funding for 2018
The wage enhancement for the year 2018 is as follows. However, a provider signing today will not be able to apply for the until January. It is our understanding that the funding is set for the year before.

… a home child care enhancement grant supports an increase of up to $20 per day for home child caregivers who contract with a licensed home child care agency. These grants are part of the Province’s commitment to retain eligible child care professionals and support access to stable high quality child care programs in Ontario. (Region of Waterloo)

Additionally, from the Home Child Care Enhancement Grant Guidelines 2018, PDF

2018 is the fourth year of the HCCEG initiative. There is a change to the initiative for 2018, including: An increase in the maximum rate per day from $266.80 to $270.70 for full time Home Child Care providers; and an increase in the maximum rate per day for part time providers from $160.08 to $162.42. Additionally, the changes implemented in 2017 will continue: Private children are included in the count of provision of services to calculate the full or partial daily rate. A provider’s own children are not included in the count;

For providers with only private children this will mean we can still access the Wage enhancement funding of about 400 to 500 a month. This is a positive for signing with the Region, especially, with the option of staying private. It is the Region’s hope is we will take on a child who is signed with the region, but there is no pressure from the agency to do so. It is nice to witness a collective partnership with the Region for private providers to work with them.

Why We Love Working in Home Child Care

There are so many amazing elements in our career as home child care providers! We have wonderful relationships with families, we get to watch our students grow from barely crawling to running and talking, and we have the flexibility to participate fully in the wonderful events going on our community.

I asked the providers in our local providers group to share some of their most positive experiences as home child care teachers and this is what some of them had to say —

“I think my favorite part is building wonderful relationships with the families I have the privilege of working with. I’ve supported families during their easy parenting days, their difficult days and everything in between. Recently I walked with a family through a difficult family loss and another family celebrated a graduate with her Masters (with honors and awards!) after several years of university. Being part of their ‘village’ is truly rewarding.” – Melodie Stryker

“After my husband left me, my clients upped my rate to make sure I would still be able to afford to provide care for their kids. They also paid for Christmas for my kids that year.” – Lisa Straus

“I was able to work with a doula client, her 4lb baby and her familiy. Only to have them reach out to become this same little ones provider. It has been wonderful to help them all the way through this little ones life so far.” – Lesley Cressman

“I’ve been collecting and organizing photos lately putting together something for 2 kids last days. Boy is it emotional and rewarding looking back on 3+ years with of photos and seeing how much these Littles have changed and grown. Seeing the collection of experiences I have provided from field trips, to the funny dress up pictures, to messy sensory and art, all the outdoor fun. For me, even though there have been many tough days, seeing all these memories compiled is so rewarding and positive. :)” – Jenn Dziura

“I love that I have kept in touch with many of my past families and we still see each other regulatory for playmates. This past year I have quite a few medical issues and had been in the hospital a bit. Every time my Dcf have offered to take my kids. One day offered to make my kids school lunch for my husband. However my husband had it all under control. But nice to know the offer was there.” – Catherine Brindley

“So when we had my mom’s funeral, a daycare parent paid one or 2 days of brievement. She said I get them so I am giving them to you. She didn’t have to. I have had her daughter for 3 years now.” – Michelle Barnard

“In my 19 years of doing daycare. The most positive experience is: when the kids already in High school and University they come to visit me and tell me when they have their own kids they are going to bring them to my daycare.
Also when I go to the stores where they work they use their employee card to give me a discount!
I love all the kids I take care plus their parents .
I have a feeling that I am going to have this job for long time!” – Maria Rodrigues

These are just a few of the heartfelt messages I received regarding the rewarding and positive experiences providers have had during their careers. We work in an amazing field!

What are some of your most amazing experiences with families you have worked with? Please leave your memories in the comments! <3

The Creation of Nature-Base Early Education Directory

Natasha Kocher and Lesley Cressman are two proud independent home childcare providers in the Waterloo region. They found each other through their love for nature based curriculum planning. They both love being able to take their little ones into the forest as much as possible.
nature, based, childcare, Early, Education, Directory, NEEDKW

An article called, Benefits for Children of Play in Nature By Randy White is a great place to start. “There’s no way that we can help children to learn to love and preserve this planet, if we don’t give them direct experiences with the miracles and blessings of nature.” Anita Olds
The Creation of Nature-Base Early Education Directory

Forest Adventure

Faery Childcare

Red River Early Learning Centre is run my Natasha Kocher. She runs a nature, reggio, and Waldorf based program, where she exceeds the expectations of her families. She is a positive supported of the newer home daycare providers as they start their journey as daycare business.

Red River Early Learning Centre

Faery Childcare is run by Lesley Cressman. She explores a nature, reggio, and Waldorf program in Kitchener, Ontario. She is skilled at allowing the children in her care to lead their own learning. She knows the children are capable and powerful learners. Lesley allows the program to become and met the children’s needs.

Faery Childcare

It is not surprising that these two women found their way to each other. They have met at many playgroups, the museum, and the forest playground. They both follow the rules of the Ministry of Education.

As they made their way through the last few years they created NEED. NEEDKW is a space for families, providers, and community programs to come together. It is a hub space that showcases nature based programs.

The Nature-Based Early Education Directory is a resource for educators and caregivers interested in supporting the holistic education of the whole child through nature-centred, child directed programming.

NEED is not an agency. We do not screen or personally endorse any of the providers that are listed in this forum. The providers in our directory have met basic requirements to be listed which include knowledge of the Child Care and Early Years Act, incorporating nature play in to their programs, and demonstrating professionalism in their practice.

NEEDKW has also started creating foundational supports for providers:

The Directory Link
Caregiver Resources
The Directory Link
Home Child Care Provider Interview Check List Link
Provider Resources
Medication Safety in Home Daycares (plus medication administration form) Link
Writing Your Basic Sickness Policy (plus example) Link
Drafting A Contract for Child Care (plus sample) Link

Are you a home child care provider in the KWC area? Do you feel that your program fits within our directory? We would love to accept an application from you. Please fill out form and we will contact you as soon as we can! Link

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